D.J. Reader’s role slowly expanded throughout his rookie season. He began as a rotational player and by the midpoint of the regular season, was a key front line trench player for the defense. Reader has embraced what occurred his first season in the NFL, learning from one of the best in history in Vince Wilfork. During that first season, Reader really evolved his game, developing into a more complete player than most analysts anticipated; they viewed Reader as a run stopper at this level.
The pressure last season was not squarely on Reader’s shoulders. After all, he was working behind Vince Wilfork. However, now Reader becomes the anchor of the defense in only his second season.
“I’m excited about the whole defense. I’m excited about our team. I know the defense a little bit more, studying a little bit more,” Reader said of the start of the work in OTAs. “Got a little bit more time, not busy with rookie meetings and stuff. So, it’s been good. I’m excited.”
Reader may have had a slow start with limited snaps, but he was able to show some pass rush ability in his 330+ pound frame, allowing him to become a three-down player. Reader finished the final five games of the regular season recording several quarterback hits and had a solid game in the wild card round against the Oakland Raiders. 13 of Reader’s 23 total quarterback pressures came in the final six games of 2016, allowing the Texans to trust Reader for a bigger role in 2017.
“Just in a bigger role, more important role. I have to worry about people looking at me, messing up more so than me looking at them,” Reader said of his role within the defense. “Just trying to be the best I can and help lead these boys who are in the position I was in last year.”
The Texans defense will be dependent on the success of Reader in the middle of the line, but more importantly, Reader is excited about what is expected of him as he anchors the Texans defense.